NASA discovered an oasis on Mars where life might once have lived, and an upcoming mission to the Red Planet will seek fossil evidence for extraterrestrial beings.
Two new studies revealed that Jezero Crater The Mars 2020 Rover is scheduled to land on February 18, 2021 and contains mineral deposits of hydrated silica, a substance that is "particularly good" for biosignature conservation.
In data originating from orbiting spacecraft that are difficult to detect, we found two sites of hydrated silica in the Jezero Crater, "the lead author of the first study, Jesse Tarnas, said in a statement," We know of that Earth notes that this mineral phase is exceptional for preserving microfossils and other biosignatures, making these outcrops into thrilling targets for the rover. "
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In November 2018, NASA announced that it had selected the Jezero Crater, a 28-mile wide hole in the ground, as the location of its Mars 2020 rover on the Red planet will land.
Jezero was possibly the home of an ancient lake and had rivers that flowed into the lake. The presence of silica could be a great coup to find fossil references to life, said Jack Mustard, one of the co-authors of the study.
The researchers used data from the CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and found two sites in the Jezero Crater that contained silica deposits.
"The material that forms the bottom layer of a delta is sometimes the most productive to obtain biosignatures," Mustard added. "So if you find this bottom layer and that layer contains lots of silica, that's a double bonus."
This study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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In a separate study published in the journal Icarus, researchers used the CRISM data to construct a "bathtub ring" of carbonate minerals to be found on the inner edge of Jezero. NASA said carbonate is useful for preserving ancient fossil life, especially shells, coral and some stromatolites.
"CRISM discovered carbonates here years ago, but we have recently noticed how concentrated they are right where a lake shore would be," said lead author of the paper, Briony Horgan, in a statement posted on the NASA website has been published. "We will encounter carbonate deposits in many places during the mission, but the bathtub ring will be one of the most exciting places to visit."
It is unclear when the carbonates were formed, but Deputy Mars 2020 project scientist Ken Williford said the mere presence of them was exciting for researchers.
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"" Environment has been one of the most exciting features that has brought us to our Jezero landing site, "Williford added in the statement." Carbonate chemistry on an ancient lakeshore is a fantastic recipe for keeping records of the ancient life and climate. We are eager to get to the surface and find out how these carbonates have formed. "
Earlier this month, NASA's Curiosity Rover discovered oxygen behaving as scientists can not yet explain" on the Red Planet , In June, Curiosity, which has been exploring the Gale Crater since its landing on Mars in August 2012, discovered an "unusually high" methane content on Mars.
On Earth, methane is produced both biologically and geologically, although it is unclear what caused the methane peak on Mars.
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James Rogers of Fox News contributed to this story.